One of the gifts given to me by my father-in-law was the passage: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).
One of the things I learned from “Dad” was the importance of discipleship of believers and providing a program for developing new leaders who can carry on the ministry work. I learned from him that discipleship is NOT about imparting knowledge for gaining information but for transformation.
The Bible teaches us to entrust God’s truth to reliable people who were both loyal to the faith and able to teach about our faith. The stress was on reliability, availability, and capability. Like ripples from a stone thrown into a pool of water, the gospel spreads across the world from person to person.
What does discipleship take?
Discipleship TAKES COMMITMENT. Hebrews 5:12-13 says, “You have been Christians for a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others, but instead, you need someone to teach you. When a person is still living on milk, it shows he isn’t very far along in the Christian life. He’s still a baby Christian.”
There are no shortcuts to spiritual growth. There’s no instant pill, drink, or formula for instant change. 1 Peter 2:2 says, “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” Growth always takes time. Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Discipleship TAKES DISCIPLINE. 1 Timothy 4:7 says, “Take the time and the trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit.” Is physical fitness automatic? No. Neither is spiritual fitness, and it takes time and effort. Just like to be physically fit, we must exercise develop some basic Bible study habits.
Disciples are submitted and devoted to learning and growing. They are open to new lessons from God. Life is our laboratory for growth and development as believers in Jesus. You will know a disciple of Christ by committing a lifestyle of love. John 13: 34-35 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples if you have love for one another.”
Disciples are faithful followers of Jesus Christ. To be a disciple means you allow the Holy Spirit to set the agenda and priorities for our life. Mark 1:16-18 says, “And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then Jesus said to them, Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men. They immediately left their nets and followed Him.”
Disciples are sacrificially called, and they are willing to do whatever God tells us to do, even if it means that we may be rejected or face strong challenges.
Luke 14:25-28, “Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
After Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter followed at a distance to the place where Jesus was taken, the High Priest’s house. As Peter sat in the courtyard of the High Priest’s house, a servant girl looked closely at him and said, This man was with Jesus. Peter denied knowing Jesus.
A little while later, someone else saw him and said, you are one of them. Again, Peter denied the association. A bit later, yet another person said, He was with Him. Peter said I don’t know what you’re talking about. And at that moment, Peter came to the full realization that even though hours before he had bragged that he would never leave Jesus, even to the point of death, he had disowned Him in fear when questioned by a few lowly servants. Peter no doubt felt crushed at that moment, shattered before God and before the mirror of his soul.
Peter was talented and gifted in many ways. But he was also impulsive, strong-willed, outspoken, and strong physically. He was self-centered. Yet Jesus chose Peter. Why?
For the same reason, He chooses us. Jesus sees the best of what we can become. This is the purpose of discipleship, to be the best we can be!